Are you waiting or working for a breakout performance?
There are no accidents in regard to how you perform.
We recently received an email from a D-I soccer player who asked: “How can I improve my game and get to the next level?”
Let’s answer that question with a question: Are you working or waiting for a next-level performance?
To answer this question, you need time for introspection. Sometimes, you feel like you are putting in the work. You rarely miss practice. You are always on time for training sessions. You pay attention to your coach. You do what is expected of you.
However, are you going above and beyond? Going above and beyond does not mean practicing on your own for two hours daily.
Doing what you have always done has gotten you to where you are, but you need more. Soccer players in this position usually are waiting for success.
They are hoping for that breakout game.
You need a bit more than average effort to achieve a breakout game or next-level performance.
To increase your output, you must boost your input, for example, you can boost your physical input by:
- Challenging yourself in practice
- Pushing yourself in conditioning and agility drills
- Improving your communication with your teammates
- Working on weaker aspects of your game.
- Asking for feedback from your coach.
However, improving your mental game is the answer to advancing your game further and quicker. The following mental skills are crucial to achieving next-level play:
* Stable Confidence – Confidence improves your decision-making, risk-taking, and belief in yourself to produce under pressure.
* Trust in Skillset – Trust affects your commitment on the field to make plays. Instead of playing hesitantly, trust allows you to play instinctively and aggressively.
* Present Moment Focus – Focus is more than keeping your eye on the ball. Focus allows you to let go of mistakes, minimize distractions and immerse yourself in the game.
* Emotional Management – Competitive athletes are emotional beings. Managing your emotional responses prevents negative emotions from dictating your play.
When you effectively manage how you feel, you gain the ability to use your emotions to fuel performance.
* Positive Self-Talk – Self-talk directly affects your play on the field. Constructive self-talk leads you to make positive plays and compete with confidence.
* Self-Motivation – Motivation is the fuel that drives you to work on your game no matter what obstacles may arise throughout the season.
Midfielder Savannah DeMelo has been on the rise ever since she played D-I soccer at the University of Southern California. In the 2022 NWSL draft, Racing Louisville selected DeMelo fourth overall.
DeMelo scored four goals finishing as Racing Louisville’s second-leading scorer in her rookie season. Since graduating from USC, DeMelo earned a couple of call-ups to the USWNT along the way.
When asked about her rapid rise, DeMelo refused to characterize it as unexpected. DeMelo spent significant time working on her game, including developing her defensive skills.
Demelo’s preparation and work ethic helped her steadily climb to the next level.
“I don’t want to say unexpected, but I was coming into my rookie season just trying to learn as much as I could and I was ready for the challenge,” said DeMelo.
Peak performance doesn’t just happen. You have to work to grow your game. You need to be motivated, responsible, and dedicated to incremental improvement that will help you climb to the next level.
Breakout performances require:
*Putting in the effort when no one is watching
*Developing mental skills
*Putting in the extra work outside regular practice
*Reviewing how to improve past performances
*Working on a consistent pregame routine.
Getting to the next level requires doing the dirty work behind the scenes.
Resources for Athletes, Coach, and Sports Parents
- Learn more about Soccer Psychology Tips and Strategies
- Download our a FREE Mental Toughness Report
- Read our Sports Psychology Articles
- Check out our Sports Psychology Audio Programs
- Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
- Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify
Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!
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